United's playmaker Zlatan Ibrahimovic may only be an observer at Wednesday’s Europa League final, but his team-mate Ander Herrera looks forward to the probable occurance that the experienced 35-year-old will still have a part to play in Stockholm.
The Swede striker is back at United’s Aon Training Complex last week after undergoing knee surgery in America to repair the ligament damage he sustained during the Europa League quarter-finals.
Which ruled him out of a homecoming against his former club Ajax, at the Friends Arena where a statue of the striker is due to be constructed, though United boss Jose Mourinho has already established that Ibrahimovic and his fellow injured team-mates will travel to the finals regardless.
And for a United squad seriously lacking the continental pedigree of the past years, with Herrera, Antonio Valencia and Paul Pogba the only players in the XI that started against Celta Vigo to have featured in a previous European final, Herrera believes Ibrahimovic’s amount of experience could be an important quality in his side’s biggest game of the spel.
“I always say this is a team sport, we are a team,” declared Herrera.
“The reason we have won two titles (Community Shield and EFL Cup) this season is because everyone has been there, working, helping. This final is for everyone.
“Of course 11 players will be on the pitch but everyone is ready to help and push for their team-mates. So, if we win it, it will be for everyone. Everyone has been part of this.
“Zlatan and Ash (Young) have very good experience. We need everyone.
“When you want to win a European trophy and you want to make a good season, it is not only on the pitch, you need help from the outside. Zlatan is here to help, Ash is also here to help. We are a team who is together. Everyone is important.”
When Ibrahimovic was subjected to injury at the end of last month, concerns arose over whether he would even play again due to the extreme of the injury at his age.
Herrera declared as a fact at the time that he had no reservations about his return due to the forward’s supreme physical state and that view has not changed after seeing him post-op.
“He is with us, he is supporting us,” Herrera added.
“I think he is very good. He is optimistic. He is 100 per cent sure he will be back because he cannot stop winning. He cannot stop scoring. For sure he will be back at the best.”
None of Herrera, Valencia or Pogba ended up on the winning sides in their last European finals and the former is driven by the disappointment he suffered at this stage five years ago.
The midfielder, Herrera, was playing for Athletic Bilbao then - that had beaten Sir Alex Ferguson’s United on the road to an all-Spanish final they were to lose against Atletico Madrid.
“I have played in the final and it was very disappointing when Atletico Madrid beat us when I was with Athletic Bilbao,” he explained.
“Now I have the chance to win it. For the club, it is a massive competition right now.
“It is one game, one trophy. That is what will be in my mind. We are going to play for one European trophy that this club has never won. We can bring back a European title for the club which is very important. That is what this club is about.”